Interview with Tony Mills of TNT

Tony Mills and I go way back, he blew me away on that Shy "Once Bitten" Debut, they looked so fuckin bad but sounded so great.. Of course Itook Millsy under my wing created his image.. hahhahhahhahhaaa.... nah, but these days he's a pro.. Britain's finest, I'm always interested in what he's doin. Shy-wise you can't top the recent "Skydiving" and "Breakaway, but the thought of him letting rip akin to his predecessor Tony Harnell was very exciting, "The New Territory" was more akin to that, not as much screaming tho.
I first encounterd TNT when they released their EP, I saw them at Marquee, the Tekro Harnell combination was unstoppable, in LA I once asked Tony Harnell in The Rainbow if he was Aldy Damian (Eyes/LA Rocks).
If anyone out there is looking for "Tell No Tales" or "Knights of the New Thunder," get off this ambulance chase right now, TNT are forever evolving, sometimes a bit too fast but you can't accuse them of being stagnant. The perennial axe hero Ronnie Le Tekro is so left field these days I bet he goes back to TNT for a bit of normality. Saying that, his dominance on this record has moved the band forward from their progressive metal roots to a more commercial modern sound that whilst it may alienate the tradional metallists, they should win over the guys on the crossover market.
Tony Mills' ever versatile voice really suits the new TNT direction. "Atlantis" their second effort is why we're here "Hello, Hello, Hello" Beatlesque is great mixed with a touch of US New England, TNT go powerpop, "Had It lost It Found It" is amazingly quirky, killer axe work, but what else would ya expect, "Peter Sellers" is certainly original and would be great for next "Austin Powers", the chorus sounds like utopia. To my good friend at "Glory Daze" warrants a different attention. God Tony, you've done trains and religion... don't go all Tom Cruise on us. hahahaa! The Taste Of Honey.. very different very crossover.. with the new CD digested I quized Big Tone
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Q1. The songs on "Atlantis", some rare subjects and direction.. Peter Sellers Blues.. "Hello, Hello, Hello", is not the usual Tony "Queensryche Mills (hello I should have got the Judas Priest gig) is it? Tell us about it?

I think it's fair to say that this album reaches back into 60/70's commercial ideals within the song framework and I have never recorded anything quite like it. But then I like new things and fresh approaches. I've never really been tied down to a specific style unless you only view what I actually released with SHY. I wrote and recorded many styles of music that never saw the light of day for one reason or another. I think the album is a very diverse one that mirrors many artists during that period and draws its roots from acts that both Ronni Le Tekro and myself respected in our earlier years. But, deep in the soundscape of all the material is still heavy guitar work that isn't immediately apparent. Rock is deeply ingrained in us both and is very evident in the songs, should you be listening for it.

Q2. The band has a massive history, how do you fit in there, considering you've come in at a time of great change? You're almost in a Journey type situation?

In many ways, it would seem very obvious that I have joined TNT in the autumn years of their career. If I had joined them earlier, who knows what would have happened artisticly? We work together well as a team and share the same desire to create, work and perform and the success we've achieved in Scandinavia over the last two and a half years is evidence of that. There are certainly parallels with the Journey situation although the music is ultimately different. I've been carving a future for myself within a rock/metal based genre for a long time and where the 'Journey' has taken me is of no surprise at all. I'm a product of my own efforts, as we all are, and to be singing with TNT feels like a justified result after 25 years.

Q3. To say that guitarist Ronni is creative is an understatement. Do you wanna just do that basic AOR Hair Metal or progess to a different sound?

Tekro is an unfathomable artist and cannot be predicted at all. With regard to his writing, he can be a mixed bag, but there are always surprises in there. I have felt very comfortable (especially on this album) with the results of the writing/co-writing. In fact I've just come back after performing the new tracks on several TV shows and live performances this week and the feeling was one of genuine conviction in the performance about what we have written. It FEELS good to play it live. I have no doubt whatsoever that further progression in TNT will unleash newer and even more unpredictable music from the band, which I welcome whole heartedly. I don't think it's ever been a band that wrote to order just to satisfy specific groups of people/fanbases and never will be.

Q4. How much input do you have?

Lyrically, it's really up to me, unless specific ideas have been formulated when I'm in the UK away from the writing process. I worked on several tracks on this album, but not all, due to work on a solo project that needed completing earlier in the year.

Q5. How much pressure is on yourself and the band to record a CD, when fans are screamin out for another "Tell No Tales", "Intuition" and "Knights"?

There is no pressure, because peoples external opinions of the band never affect what goes on inside. This is a band that is a closed shop to the outside world and it's opinions. It develops its art with deaf ears to the world and achieves what it wants to achieve as a team regardless of its effect. That will not change. It can't, otherwise it wouldn't be TNT. People have mixed opinions of what TNT is - for them. For some, it's Intuition, for others, it's My Religion. For us, it's all of that and more besides. It will continue to evolve under its own steam regardless of any press reviews, because it is not really about making a lot of money for the sake of it, rather about living together as people and the creativity that comes hand in hand with that.

Q6. Will the Morty ever return?

I think that extremely unlikely. Morty is a successful musician in his own right and has a busy career that perpetuates that unforgettable smile.

Q7. What do the band think of Shy? Will there be any songs done?

I dont think TNT have much of an opinion regarding SHY. SHY were never radical songwriters like TNT and don't really fit into a similar category. I think SHY tried hard to push into existing markets, but ultimately failed in retrospect. With regard to new songs, it's not really my position to say, I know they have been working on a new album; from what I hear, it remains unfinished, I guess they have to make those decisions and either move forwards or not, as the case may be.

Q8. This suits you way better than The Sweet; was the gig made for you?

Singing for The Sweet did not suit me at all. But that was mainly because we were very different people, like jigsaw pieces that were never going to fit together. Personally as a vocalist, I have to say that working with Ronni Le Tekro, suits me just fine. He is very artistic, a man who is very peace loving and full of new ideas, a pleasure to talk to and very inspiring. He is driven, and like myself, the people have a lot of time to listen to what he has to say. Who would not want to work with people that inspire you? I don't think I would have been ready to work with Ronni had I not already served time in the business. I had to be prepared to work with him, or it would not have worked out. With a solid rhythm section and Tekro on guitar, it gives me a strong platform to perform on with credible and groundbreaking material to sing in front of thousands of people in Scandinavia. It works well. The new material has been received well there, so we must be doing something right. It feels like being in a band should feel, and I'm settled. Yes I think the gig was made for me. I haven't closed down as regards working with other people and writing solo projects, Ronni does a lot of that too, and it's healthy to stay diverse in my opinion. I've seen Ronni's solo show, and it was unforgettable.

Q9. Will you still do solo stuff?

I am currently considering what I should do next on that score. I really would like to do an acoustic album, but I haven't found a suitable medium yet. Also, I have aspirations to record a rock opera, but that may take some time. Whatever I do will fit in and around TNT's schedule as it has to remain the priority in my life for the forseeable future.

Q10. Word association..comments

Tony Harnell? A remarkable predecessor.
The Sweet? Not quite as 'Sweet' as I thought.
Steve Harris or Ronnie Le Tekro? Ronni Le Tekro.
Progressive Metal? I like a lot of it, but not all.
Queensryche? A big inspiration, although now, I think we have heard the best of them.
Glam? Great in its time. Good fun.
Wardi or Lee Smalls? Two very extremely different characters. Although I think Lee probably suits SHY better than Wardi for many reasons.
Knights of the New Thunder or Atlantis? Atlantis. It's not old history, it's new groundbreaking history and it's current.
England or Norway? For me? For music?......Norway.

For more information, check out the band's website www.tnttheband.com

Interviewed by Kelv Hellrazer